by Brooke Kennedy
This month’s Space and Aviation auction brought a bit of the stratosphere to our bidders. From flown artifacts to sparkling meteorites, our curated list of lots brought in staggering offers from passionate collectors. Take a moon walk through our top selling space items of our April 2023 auction!
In first, second, and third place we have three extraordinary timepieces distributed to three extraordinary space walkers. These gold Omega Speedmaster watches were personally-owned by astronauts Gus Grissom, Alan Bean, and Ron Evans. According to Robb Report, 28 of these incredible 18K solid yellow gold watches were created and presented as part of a July 1969 special gala dinner honoring the Apollo 11 moon landing. The first two watches were made for President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew, with the other 26 going to astronauts who served on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. During the gala, Gus Grissom’s family was presented with the watch as he passed away in two years prior. Astronaut Alan Bean was still in Apollo 12 quarantine when the dinner took place, so he received his watch later on. Evans was a member of the 1972 Apollo 17 mission, and did not receive his watch until after that mission’s completion. Each timepiece was fitted with an engraving of the astronaut’s name, mission, and a quote that reads, “To mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time.” These lots sold for a combined sum of nearly $1,000,000. RR Auction previously handled the sale of another Omega Speedmaster owned by astronaut Wally Schirra, which ended up becoming our top selling watch, going for an astronomical $1,906,953!
Moving forward, the title of fourth place goes to a Mercury Program Earth Path Indicator that realized $124,998. Originally manufactured by the Minneapolis Honeywell Regulator Company, this 1960 navigator was installed into the Mercury space capsule. Considered a precursor to the modern day GPS, the system helped astronauts replicate the Earth below them. This allowed them to inform their location in relation to countries, cities, oceans, ground stations, and their re-entry point into Earth’s atmosphere. Along with providing space walkers their location, it assisted in their observations of Earth, maintaining communications, and making sure the mission concluded with a successful splashdown. This particular EPI was used for an unmanned 1961 test flight, and then the 1962 Mercury flights of John Glenn and Scott Carpenter, who were also the first Americans to orbit the Earth.
Our fifth and last highlight for this auction goes to another timepiece. This Mir flown Omega Speedmaster professional chronograph realized $118,776. Flown for 365 days on Space Station Mir, this watch is one of 28 models that have been to the space station. The intention of bringing these chronographs to space was to observe the effects of microgravity on watch movements. All 28 watches traveled on the Soyuz TM-17 and returned to planet Earth on the Soyuz TM-18. You can also find an engraving on the watch’s reverse that reads, “365 Days on board Space Station MIR, July 1993-July 1994.” Some honorable mentions from the evening include an Apollo Display and Keyboard Assembly that realized $107,903 and Yuri Artyukhin’s flown Omega Flightmaster chronograph that sold for $56,568. Visit our website to see the complete list of lots and their winning bids!
Looking to Sell?
Our Space auctions always attract a wide network of bidders looking to expand their collections. If you have anything you’re looking to auction, reach out to our team of specialists. We’ll give you a free estimate of what your items could be worth and make the process of consignment to auction a smooth one. Call us at 800-937-3880 today!
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